Mayor Bill de Blasio’s latest pick for the MTA board skips the one-seat train ride just blocks from her house for a city-funded chauffeur to commute downtown, The Post has learned.
Department of Aging Commissioner Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez, who lives in Pelham Bay, gets the perk as part of her job — and uses it virtually every weekday, City Hall confirmed Friday.
It was unwelcome news for transit advocates.
“It’s important for board members to be familiar with the system that they’re making decisions for on behalf of millions of riders,” said Jaqi Cohen, a spokeswoman for the Straphangers’ Campaign. “They need to have an understanding of that daily experience.”
A City Hall spokesperson insisted that despite her weekday car use, Cortés-Vázquez “has ridden public transit more times than one can count,” and is a regular of the Bx12 and Bx31 bus lines, as well as the 6 train.
That presents a sharp contrast to Hizzoner’s other candidate for the board of the state-run transit agency: Disability Commissioner Victor Calise, who was heavily involved in the city’s work on subway accessibility.
Cortés-Vázquez’s resume also lacks any notable transit, engineering or construction experience.
“It’s like [de Blasio] gave up when making the decision,” said a former de Blasio administration official said. “Not only does she not have any level of experience in mass transit, but she is also someone who does not use the system.”
But the ex-city official noted the former secretary of state has “deep, strong political” connections in the Bronx political establishment dominated by Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, who Gov. Andrew Cuomo must negotiate with over bail reform and the state budget.
She was a top aide to Roberto Ramirez, the one-time Bronx Democratic Party leader.
That may help the chances of her appointment winning approval from Cuomo, who refused to seat de Blasio’s last nominee — Dan Zarelli, a top planning and engineering expert with a reputation for independence.
Cuomo’s aides claimed weeks after they received the nomination of the longtime city staffer that they got it too late to perform a proper background check.
Cuomo’s office declined to comment on Cortés-Vázquez’s appointment.
But top Bronx Democrats lined up in support.
“Lorraine is a very experienced professional and has always held the interest of New Yorkers at heart. So yes I think she’s an excellent choice,” Assemblyman and Bronx Democratic Party Chairman Marcos Crespo told The Post.
Cortés-Vázquez could not be reached for comment.
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